Created in 2018 by Geneva-based Patrick A. Ulm, the brand resurrects the work of Charles Girardier, a son of the fabled city by the lake. By the time he became a Master Watchmaker in 1809 he was already producing elaborate pocket watches with dials featuring finely painted scenes which eventually became one of the hallmarks of his creations. In 2019, at the Agatha Christie Museum in London, a Girardier pocket watch caught Ulm’s imagination and thus was founded the watch brand Charles Girardier.
Following through on the win in the Ladies’ Complication category at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2020, Charles Girardier has now opened up the 1809 collection to their male audience with a new 41mm Mysterious Signature (Signature Mystérieuse) flying tourbillon – the 1809 Cobalt Blue.
Let’s start with that mysterious signature… As a direct tribute to the eponymous founder: His initials, a C and G intertwined, take on a life of their own through an automaton patented by Charles Girardier in the medallion located at noon on the dial. However, what intrigued me is that you may request your own initials or even other shapes for a Signature Mystérieuse that is unique to you. Talk about personalisation !
Measuring 41 mm in diameter with a total thickness of 12.2 mm, the choice of white gold for the whole, including the faceted dauphine hands, the polished tourbillon cage and the applied indices magically complements the cobalt blue of the grand feu enamel dial. The making of that beautifully crafted dial begins with a base plate of solid gold which is then shaped to accommodate the flying tourbillon and the Signature Mystérieuse. The balance of the surface is further engraved with an exclusive chevron pattern after which the painstaking process of applying the enamel begins. This dense and smooth texture create quite a dramatic impression of brilliance and depth.
Beating inside the 1809 Cobalt Blue 41 mm is the CG Calibre 1809. Taking up almost two-thirds of the visible area is the substantial bridge made of one piece, a legacy of the 18th century Charles Girardier movement design with equally unusual finishes. Instead of the traditional Côtes de Genève or satin finish, the brand now opts for a grenage, an entirely manual frosting technique that creates a matte surface by applying a silver powder with a brush. The other visible bridges, and in particular the one that holds the tourbillon from below, also shows a similar graining.
The winding here is carried out by a ring-shaped mass, which circles the movement’s periphery and the height of which is the movement’s thickness. That is not to say the CG Calibre 1809 is completely rotor-free. The mechanism Signature Mystérieuse is based on a small oscillating weight, used not for winding but to power the automaton driving the initials C and G. This rotor lives in a setting of matte textures, polished bevels and blued screws. One rotating component carries one initial, ‘half’ of the signature, while the other, the size of the minute hand and rotating independently, carries the second element. As the arm is set in motion, the two parts begin to rotate, occasionally aligning to reveal the secret of the mysterious signature, a system that is the subject of a patent application.
As a Master Watchmaker, Charles Girardier himself did not make all of his watches, but has brought together the specialists, artisans and craftspeople who could provide the best outcome for each aspect and component of the watch to be created. Timeless, the Geneva based upmarket movement manufacture specialising in watchmaking components, develops, manufactures and assembles its movements in-house.
To further enhance the engraved blue enamel dial, this 1809 Cobalt Blue 41 mm sits on a blue ribbon woven strap made of traditional Jacquard loom. Clearly categorised as one for the gentlemen, I’d say this one here is dedicated to the lovers of fine watchmaking who appreciate substance within form, be it a man or a woman.
Price: 93,000 euros (excl. VAT)